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Panning for gold: influencing the experience of web-based information searching

Edwards, Sylvia L. (2005) Panning for gold: influencing the experience of web-based information searching. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Reporting the findings from a phenomenographic study of students' experiences of web-based information searching, this thesis describes how the identified four conceptions, and their structures of awareness, might influence future information literacy curriculum design and web based resources for academics, librarians, and students. Alongside the reported study in this thesis, the first electronic outcome space is also outlined and presented. This electronic outcome space is an enhancement to ways of presenting phenomenographic study findings.

Using a phenomenographic approach, the project aimed to uncover variation in students' experiences of web-based information searching. Data gathering during 2000 - 2003 involved investigations of student diary work, video-filmed searching using a think-aloud protocol, and a series of interviews conducted over several semesters. Incorporating first year, third year, and postgraduate student perspectives, the participants, who were from the Queensland University of Technology, came from six of the eight university faculties. Different cultures, ages and genders were represented. During the interviews the students were asked to describe a recent search experience, and to describe how they learn to search for information using various web-based tools. Careful attention was paid during interviews to asking students to explain their interpretation of key concepts in the subject area.

Analysis involved an iterative process of seeking meaning and structure. Amongst the group of students interviewed, four categories of explicit variation were discovered and these have been described drawing largely from the words of the participants. Two categories of implicit variation are also proposed. Each explicit category is presented in terms of referential and structural components constituted in terms of the critical dimensions of variation including focal elements, approaches to learning, and reflective practice. The possibility of implicit categories is proposed based on the findings and on the levels of IT skill amongst participants.

The study also sought to explore how this type of research into student learning can influence both the design of learning experiences and academic development resources, particularly in relation to teaching and learning information searching as part of the information literacy agenda.

Using the categories of description, which showed the variations in student's web-based information searching experiences, it is hoped that the further research outlined will enlighten attempts to design existing assessment to work more effectively, to bring about desired changes in students' experiences of information searching behaviour. The structure of awareness section of each category has revealed the elements that need to be attended to in re-designing assessment. It is hoped that in modifying assignments it will enable the simultaneous attention of students to the already identified relevant dimensions of the information searching experience.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16168
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bruce, Christine, Middleton, Michael, & Underwood, Barney
Keywords: phenomenography, information literacy, information searching, information seeking and use, variation theory, learning and awareness, Internet, web-based information searching, phenomenographic method
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Information Systems
Department: Faculty of Information Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Sylvia Lauretta Edwards
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 13:57
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:44

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